When consumers light up smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes, keen to save money, they may be unwittingly helping to fund international organised crime and terrorists.
This is just one serious problem associated with the trade in illicit tobacco – a trade which is already a global problem and set to grow.
“The illicit trade in tobacco products has a huge impact on the social and economic structure of societies. It robs governments of excise tax revenue and weakens the tax base—thereby undermining government budgeting and fiscal objectives. It jeopardizes national loan repayments in situations where governments are reliant on raising revenue to reduce sovereign debt and loans to organizations such as the IMF. It destabilizes markets through the undermining of legitimate distributers and retailers. It undermines brand equity and product innovation investment by manufacturers. It exposes consumers to unregulated products and packaging with inappropriate health warnings and dubious tar and nicotine disclosures. It encourages widespread criminality and institutionalizes criminal activity. In addition cigarette smuggling is often a ‘front’ for other illicit areas, such as trafficking of people and drugs, and it funds organized crime and terrorism”.